This January, Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) will feature an inspiring exhibition of work by artist Lèonie Hampton, drawing our attention to the current environmental crisis. 

A Language of Seeds is a series of photographs celebrating the artist Lèonie Hampton's vegetable garden, family and friends responding to the Royal Albery Memorial Museum and Art Gallery's (RAMM) botany collection. Lèonie Hampton is from the artist collective Still/Moving, her lens captures both the beauty of the natural world while attending to the urgent climate crisis through the tender relationships she creates between human hand, body and mouth and the food she grows. Children feature in these photographs: their presence reminding us that they are both witnessing and inheriting this man-made climate emergency. 

Hampton visited RAMM's varied botany collections in store where she was introduced to a range of specimens including those from local enthusiasts, such as William D'Urban, RAMM's first curator, and William Keble Martin, best known for his book The Concise British Flora in Colour. Hampton was particularly drawn to the nature of collecting with its semantics of preservation and its interruption of the natural process of decay. Hampton's photographs provide a rich context to consider our place in this fragile world and our need to respect, nurture and tread lightly within it. 

Lèonie Hampton said: "The perceptions and values of plants can open ways to perceive ourselves in relation to our urgent biodiversity and climate crisis. The reiteration of A Language of Seeds within Thelma Hulbert Gallery will create different relationships including between plants and photography.  I am intrigued to experience how meanings of the work might shift, unravelling hidden threads, so that I might better understand how to support more flourishing trajectories."

Councillor Paul Arnott, Leader East Devon District Council, commented: "The way in which the work at the THG continues to explore the interaction of nature and art at a critical time for our environment is really compelling. We live in a diverse landscape and it is great to see this natural inspiration reflected at East Devon's premier gallery yet again."

THG will offer an inspiring programme of activities to coordinate with the exhibition's key themes including Climate Conversations & Honiton Seed Swap to celebrate Seed Week 2023. The event will mark the new growing season by swapping seeds, sharing this natural currency with our community.

Guest speakers at the event will include exhibiting artist Léonie Hampton, Dr Jane Catford, Reader in Ecology at King's College London, Catherine Causley - East Devon District Council Climate Officer and award-winning garden designer Lulu Urquhart. They will reflect on key themes of the Climate Conversations series including Nature and Food.

The wider programme also includes a creative writing workshop with Louisa Adjoa Parker and a family woodworking workshop with the Somerset Bodgers - a group of skilled craftspeople who promote green woodworking to keep alive these ancient skills. Another highlight will be a fascinating new series of art talks by renowned art and film historian, John Francis covering the British Landscape Tradition, the suspense of Du Maurier and Hitchcock to modern day Scandi Noir and The Golden Age of Dutch Painting through to the Punk era.  

Upstairs at THG, will feature an exhibition of the work of artist Sally Baldwin. 'Fragile Earth' is a body of work evoking natural forms such as trees, pods, flowers, insects, sea life and water. The materials used - recycled paper, handmade paper, silk waste and cotton scrim - are ghostly white and ephemeral, suggesting fragile, finely balanced and vulnerable landscapes. The pieces in the Fragile Earth collection reflect several of the issues surrounding our current environmental crisis.

A Language of Seeds has been commissioned by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) and curated by Lara Goodband, Contemporary Art Curator & Programmer RAMM.

See more from Thelma Hulbert

THG is an acclaimed public art gallery featuring an inspiring programme of contemporary art & craft exhibitions of local, national and regional significance. The gallery operates as a ‘cultural hub’ through an annually changing programme of exhibitions, events and workshops, which…